Jonathan Stranger, chef at Ludivine in Oklahoma City, wanted to help the tornado victims with his culinary talent, so he started phoning some of his colleagues Monday night. Within hours, the idea had mushroomed into a two-day, full-scale event, the OK Chefs Relief Pop-Up Restaurant.
The fundraiser is set for 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Myriad Botanical Gardens restaurant area at 301 W. Reno. The relief effort will continue at the same location 4 p.m. until late night Monday.
“I was watching the [tornado] footage on Monday, and you can’t help but want to do something,” Stranger said. “I remembered after [Hurricane] Sandy, the chef community did something similar to raise money for those victims. What I thought would be an event where we feed 200 or 300 people has turned into feeding 2,000 to 3,000. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun at the same time.”
Sunday’s pop-up restaurant will feature “spontaneous cuisine,” which Stranger defined as a constantly evolving menu using donated ingredients from local producers, including two whole pigs.
“We’re going to start cooking once we know what we have,” he said.
Participating chefs include Kurt Fleishfresser of The Coach House; Russ Johnson and Stranger of Ludivine; Josh Valentine of Divine Swine and the first Oklahoma chef to compete on Bravo’s Top Chef; Tabb Singleton of Emeril’s NOLA, a recent contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped; Michel and Alain Buthion of LaBaguette Bistro and Bellini’s Ristorante; Chris Becker of Della Terra Fine Pasta; and Marc Dunham of Francis Tuttle School of Culinary Arts.
The chefs will provide a three-course meal followed by dessert provided by Cuppies & Joe and La Baguette Bistro.
On Monday, the pop-up restaurant will become Mission Chinese, a San Francisco-based restaurant founded by Danny Bowien. A Moore native, he recently was named the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef for the year. In 2011, Bowien’s Mission Chinese in New York City made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant list.
“This is huge that he’s willing to do this,” Stranger said. “It’s incredible that he dropped his ridiculously busy schedule to make this event.”
Bowien’s cooking efforts will be supported by the OK Chefs Relief team, and dessert will be provided by Christina Tosi, chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, a bakery with five locations in New York City.
Live music and a painting demonstration will be provided by local artists Desmond Mason, Jack Fowler, Jerrod Smith, Dylan Bradway, Sean Vali and Phil Danner. Attendees will have the chance to buy original art during a silent auction.
There is no cost to attend, but there is a suggested donation of $35 per person.
“But if all you have is $10, then we’ll take it. We’ll also take more than the $35 suggested donation, too,” Stranger said.
All proceeds will go to the Oklahoma chapter of American Red Cross. The chefs have set a fundraising goal of $35,000. Seating will be first-come, first-served.
The chefs are organizing this fundraiser in partnership with the Oklahoma Hospitality Foundation.
For more information and updates, go to Twitter @OKChefsRelief or phone 833-5636.